How to Build an Expense Tracker

Although I didn’t jump on the bandwagon and post about my new year goals, I do have quite a few that I’m hoping will stick throughout the year. One of them being to keep track of my expenses.

Every year around tax season I dread learning how much I actually made compared to how much I have sitting in my bank account. I’m always flabbergasted and can’t help but think “where in the absolute **** did all my money go”.

Starting this year fresh with no purchases to my card as of yet, I figured it was the perfect time to set up an expense tracker for myself. That way, at the end of the year I won’t have any questions as to where my money went- I’ll be able to physically see where I spent it.

There’s also something tangible about physically seeing where your money is going. In this digital age that we’re living in, people rarely carry around cash. Using a debit or credit card is super convenient but it’s also super dangerous. Sure you can check your bank balance and see your recent transaction history, but the key element that you’re missing is seeing just how much you spend on a particular thing- take out food for example.

When you take all the little transactions and add them up for a grand total, the results can be shocking. In the first few weeks of November I had spent $90 on take out food without even realizing.

So to curb myself of my little spending habits (that add up to a whole lot of wasted money) I’m making myself accountable and tracking what I’m spending. You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet on a computer or a bullet journal (although it would help the aesthetic) all you need is a piece of paper and some drawing utensils. Here’s how I built my expense tracker in a notebook I already had.


The notebook that I have is originally from Indigo (chapters or coles) but I found it at a thrift store for a quarter of the price! It has lined paper, which I found more helpful when drawing in the table format.

Next I took out all my drawing utensils that I bought from my local dollar store. Some of the markers have a thicker tip and some have a thin tip for more precise lines.


Next, I took to Pinterest to find some inspiration for my template. I searched the term “expense tracker inspiration” and I got a ton of results! This is the one that I based my expense tracker on:

Expense tracker in a lined paper notebook

Putting it all Together

I drew out the table and labeled it accordingly- I think that it’s really helpful to include a “type” column so that you’ll be able to see what you’re spending the most on, then you can make plans to cut back in that specific category.

I had to attempt drawing out the table a second time because the first time didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, it’s still not as aesthetically pleasing as my inspiration but it’s functional! I plan on using this tracker whenever I spend money and adding a total column to the very bottom to get a grand total at the end of the month.

It’s not perfect but I’m confident that it’s going to help me save money this year. I’m going to push myself to keep up this habit all year long and hopefully my savings account will look bigger by the end of 2019!

Any tips for saving money this year?!

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12 thoughts on “How to Build an Expense Tracker”

  1. Great idea! It’s so true that using debit means we don’t really see what we’ve spent. I might try an expense chart out this year to help save me money! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Budget Breaks Blog

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this, I seriously need to do the same. I always pay what I need to pay but whatever is left over seems to vanish so quickly. I’d love to start saving and see what I end up having left when I don’t spend it on things I don’t need. Great post!
    Sarah x (

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Omg spending is soooooo easy! I have been trying to get into the habit of carrying cash with me, and also I’ve been budgeting each week with the income we get, that way I can set money aside to save, groceries, rent and bills. It’s gotten easier and we know exactly where our money goes but of course we also have something come up with our cars needing fixing and other stuff. This year were starting over too. I may try something like this to keep track. Thanks for the inspo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I was able to give you some inspiration! It’s totally true that it gets easier as you go & when you can see exactly where your money is going and how much you’re actually spending! This year is allll about saving money!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will totally be adding an expense tracker to my bujo next month because the bank statement is a joke. that just goes over my head and I don’t grasp the actual reality of how much we’ve spent until we see our money in the middle of the week. Sometimes we really are so bad lol!


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